On Wednesday, May 6, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued an Executive Order granting limited Immunity to healthcare providers involved is emergency services for the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order is attached.
The Governor’s office issued a press release, describing that the intent of the Executive Order as:
- Grants immunity to any individual who holds a license, certificate, registration or certification to practice a health care profession or occupation in Pennsylvania and who is engaged in providing COVID-19 medical and health treatment or services during the COVID- 19 disaster emergency response. Immunity does not extend to acts or omissions that constitute a crime, gross negligence, or fraud, malice, or other willful misconduct;
- Extends immunity to those medical professionals in Pennsylvania that provide services in any health care facility as defined by the Health Care Facilities Act, as well as any nursing facility, personal care home, assisted living facility or any alternate care site, community-based testing site or non-congregate care facility used for the purpose of conducting emergency services activities or the provision of disaster services activities related to the Commonwealth's COVID- 19 disaster emergency response;
- Affirms immunity for any person, organization or authority allowing real estate or other premises used for emergency services without compensation in the case of death, injury, or loss or damage to the property of any person who is on the premises for the purpose of those emergency services; and
- Suspends or removes a host of regulatory barriers that would otherwise impede or prevent out-of-state, retired or other qualified practitioners from providing services where needed in the Commonwealth.
The Governor relied upon an existing Immunity statute applicable to governmental entities engaged in emergency services. The Order may raise issues on interpretation, such as the scope of emergency services covered under the immunity statute. It may also raise constitutional challenges, as the order designates private healthcare providers as agents of the Commonwealth under the existing governmental immunity law. That designation may be challenged as exceeding the Governor’s authority. We will address these issues and the overall effect of the Order in a forthcoming analysis.
If you have any questions, contact Attorney Mundy at firstname.lastname@example.org.